The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 31: Cleopatra Jones and the Magicial Birds and Bees

Cleopatra Jones and the Magicial Birds and Bees

Last time on Tyranny, we...chatted with Eb. Today on Tyranny, we're still chatting with Eb.

Back up the more time...

Unfortunately all this footage was taken at once, so I cannot comply with the thread's requested Hat Ban.

: What can you tell me of the Archons in the Tiers?

: What of the Voices of Nerat?

: The most vile thing to walk Terratus! The Voices claimed the masters of the School of Tides - he pulled from them their memories, then gave our secrets to the contemptable Blood Chanters! If I can burn that thing off the face of Terratus, my life will not have been wasted.

As far as I know our decision to turn over the Tidecasters does not arm the Blood Chanters with the Terratus,. Frost, or Lightning Sigils.

We will have to ask Mark for the lowdown on Nerat next time we see him.

: What do you know of Graven Ashe?

: Before the conquest, I assumed Graven Ashe a harmless old man - an Archon-in-name-only past his prime. I could not have been more wrong.

There have been some debates in the thread as to whether Ashe is supposed to come off as the big fuckup I interpret him as or whether the authors intended to make him actually an effective military commander.

This would seem to confirm the Ashe is competent interpretation - but once again, we must consider who is speaking. Eb - and the Tiers system of nobility she represents - lost the war against Graven Ashe. It's a lot easier of a salve to say that you were defeated by the very best instead of realizing that you were up against a lot of incompetent racist idiots and lost.

The Disfavored believing heavily in Ashe could go either way.

: Know anything of Cairn?

: [Conquest] The Tidecasters fought well, you can be proud of that.

These are the guys we helped Nerat eat. Naturally we didn't start with any stolen Tidecaster lore because Nerat is an asshole.

: There's clearly a story here - I'd like to hear it.

: A few years back, the remaining Elder Tidecasters met Cairn in battle. Tall as ten men, all but invincible... and I thought nothing could stop us if we stood together.

: I'm glad you lived through it all.

That's a trauma reaction if I ever heard one.

: What do you know of Sirin?

Back up the tree!

: What do you know of arcane society?

: Tell me of the Earthshakers.

: The Earthshakers are the disciplines[sic] of Cairn, Archon of stone, and they share their master's command of tremors and soil... and they also share Cairn's aloof, brooding temperament.

: Tell me about Blood Chanters.

: The Blood Chanters are the Voice's of Nerat's cabal of mages. Their magic is taken from the sigil of Sirin, and from techniques stolen from the School of Wild Wrath, namely their magic of fire as learned from Thousand Embers, Archon of Fire.

: They barely qualify as a proper school or guild... most of them barely literate and, I bet, most of them didn't learn a damn thing, just had their knowledge... shoved into their heads by Nerat.

Even after these kinds of prejudices destroyed the Tiers Eb can't give them up.

: What can you tell me of the Forge-Bound?

: The Forge-Bound have an unusual sort of magic - they specialise in slow, painstaking rituals that do not produce the dazzling blasts of energy and shards of flying ice like my own magic. Instead, their spells render them immune to the fires of the forge and at one with their tools of the trade.

: Tell me about the School of Ink and Quill.

: Behind the Tidecasters, the Sages of the School of Ink and Quill are the second oldest arcane institution in the Tiers... we go way back a ways... there's a lot of bad blood.

: If I'm being objective, the Sages claim to be scholars interested in collecting, archiving, and preserving lore from and for all humanity. They're quite keen to gather lore, but in no sense do they seek to share their knowledge with their[sic] Tiersmen.

: Tell me about your own guild, the School of Tides.

: Why didn't your Archon fight in the war?

: About a year or so before the troops arrived in the Bastard Tier, Occulted Jade proclaimed the age of the Tiers was over, and said she'd depart southwest, into unknown, unending ocean rather than face Kyros.

From what Eb told us earlier, the Tiers were settled by people fleeing Kyrosian expansion, and Occulted Jade was one of those people or born shortly afterwards. I can easily see Jade seeing that the people they fled got stronger over the last 400 years and now number in the hundreds of Archons and concluding that fighting will not get them anywhere.

I actually had to go back and reopen the game to get the rest of these. Apologies for the lack of images here, I'm transcribing directly from the game.

: What was your school like before the war?

: There was a time when the Tidecasters were the most powerful guild of the Tiers... the kingdom of Haven accepted them as guardians of sea trade and the noble houses gave us peace and quiet in return for teaching their sons and daughters music, writing, and navigation.

: Though the other schools coveted our knowledge, they feared our wrath. Between our destructive magic and our Archon patron, others knew that attacking us meant suicide.

: How did the School fall?

: The Archon Cairn issued a challenge, and Masters Folvax, Hagrivar, and Camberil leapt at the challenge - I told them it was a hopeless clash... I think they were ready to die.

: The rest of the story you should already know - some Fatebinders made sure the Fatebinders Elder were taken in chains to the Voices of Nerat. Not that I'm still bitter.

: Eb eyes you with a scowl.

This would normally get us Fear with Eb, but as I'm not saving the transcribing session it's all good.

: As the youngest Tidecaster still in the Tiers, I...I exercised the better part of valor and went into hiding. But then my sense of shame kicked in and... well, that's about when I fell in with the Vendrien Guard.

: Old as the Five Wives?

: By all accounts, Occulted Jade was among the initial settlers that made landfall in the Tiers before Kyros first cast an Edict. Though she's a bit old and stooped, she looked amazing for nearly five hundred.

Wait, hang on!

You told us in the previous update that human settlers arrived "over four hundred years ago", which is the same verbiage you used to describe the rise of Kyros. Now I'm confused!

Normal LP dialogue resumes here!

: What of other magical schools and guilds of the Tiers?

: There have been several to crop up and wither across the centuries. The Cutters Guild took their healing magic north centuries ago, the School of Flowering Winter always limped along as an inconsequential group of gardeners.

Back up the dialog tree!

: Let's talk of something else.

: Do you know anything of the magic of the Archons?

: Enough to know I'm out of my element. That is to say, I've studied the many Archons a great deal and I have a great number of hypotheses and conjectures but... well, I'm no expert yet.

: And like most who have invoked the Archons of times past to work magic, I do wonder what difference of birth or experience gives one the magical potential to be an Archon.

: Know anything about the Oldwalls and the Spires?

I am honestly not sure what to make of this. As we've established that the Oldwalls are metaphorically new unexplored avenues of thought, Eb expressing a wish to die there is rather odd. Maybe we'll come back to this.

: What can you tell me of the Bane?

: What I know is largely taken from Master Camberil's work and some near-fatal experience venturing close to the Oldwalls.

: As best I understand it, the Banes are bits of magical will that have an extended life of their own. I'm of the belief that they nest or reproduce in the Oldwalls - the only place you regularly find them.

This is entirely consistent with our interpretation of the Bane as cognitive dissonance/exposure to foreign ideas and magic as political power. There's been some debate in the thread about whether the Tiers' magic guilds really had that much power compared to the rulers, and from what both Eb and Lantry have told us two of the big three mage guilds were responsible for educating, training, and advising the nobility. That's a ton of power! It's not the obvious power and privilege accorded to them by the Kyrosian regime, but they're hardly weak either, and Occulted Jade gives the Tidecasters legitimacy dating back to the original landing. Eb's description of the Bane as "magical will" fits in perfectly with the psychological nature of the Bane (driving Raetommon insane) and they're attracted to magic because the higher up you get, the more cracks you see in the system. It's most obvious in Kyros' kleptocracy, but Eb herself identified a few cracks in the Tiers governance.

This ends the conversation.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey Eb, how are things?

: Can't believe we survived but now we're past the worst of it!

: So, uh, tell me about yourself. Why are you named Eb?

: Well, my real name is Hazen Levenja, but everyone calls me Eb.

: You're noble?

: Yea I know I'm totally not snobbish, but my family is actually super noble dating back to the original settlers of the Tiers.

: What's with the nickname?

: Old joke based on misspelling 'Ebb' on a test.

: Why did you become a Tidecaster?

: Well, I wanted a real job as a ship's marine, but then I got recruited by the Tidecasters for my political connections!

: What'd you do before the war?

: Well, I had a family with one of the Peloxes whose brothers you killed, and then my husband, my children, and the rest of my family were all killed by Kyros!

: Why'd you join the Vendrien Guard?

: Who gives a flying fuck? Last chance for freedom is gone!

: Can you tell me about the people of the Tiers?

: Have a bunch of worldbuilding - 400 years ago, we fled from Kyros and settled, then invented some vaguely sexist and gender essentialist customs, realized we all hated each other and got conquered by Kyros because we were divided.

: So what should the Tiers have done?

: Unite the tiers #FuckKyros #FuckTribalism

: So how do you guys live with all the Beastmen?

: Oh, we enslaved them, but like, it was better than Kyros even though it totally sucked and the Beastmen used an Edict to run away and found a new tribe because we eradicated their native cultures.

: Who all is resisting Kyros?

: A bunch of people...and also those fucking Sages! Fuck them! Fuck them forever!

: Can you tell me about the nations of the Tiers?

: A bunch of dumbass countries that emphasized their petty feuds over the threat of Kyros.

: What's your take on the Archons?

: Nerat is a monster I plan to kill, Ashe is a surprisingly effective commander, Cairn...Cairn killed all my friends, and Sirin is literally right there so you can ask her yourself.

: Can you tell me about the magic schools of the Tiers?

: Earthshakers are emo rock controllers, Blood Chanters are dicks, and FUCK the Sages for being assholes.

: How about the Tidecasters?

: We were the most hardcore school ever! We had our own patron Archon, and 500 years of secret lore and destructive magic! Nobody stepped to us! Then Occulted Jade decided to just flee like some kind of magic pussy so the masters and I decided to fight. Cairn challenged the masters and they fought him 10 on 1 even after...I warned them not to...then a certain skanky Fatebinder turned them over to Nerat like a massive asshole.

: Skanky? What do you think this is, a Bioware game? Anyway, do you know anything about Archon magic, Oldwalls, or Bane?

: Archons and Oldwalls are still a mystery to me - but Bane I understand, they're magical will that is attracted to magic. They live in the Oldwalls.

: Cool, bye.

So this is a massive Eb chat I broke into two updates, and I think we can put together a picture of Eb. Eb is a survivor of horrible trauma that she blames herself for, mostly her family and friends' death at the hands of Kyros. She's a noble of the Tiers and shares their general outlook on things, believing that the system of nobility in the Tiers generally worked well and was good for the Tiers despite the riots in the Bastard City indicating that maybe all was not quiet here. What we didn't get to last update is that when offered a way out with the school of Tides, Eb chose to fight against impossible odds that deterred a five hundred year old Archon with command over gravity and life drain attacks. This got her family killed, her fellow Tidecasters killed, and then on the second try it got her Vendrien Guard in-laws killed. If you talk to Eb, she talks quite a bit about her survivor's guilt - it was her fault her family died at the Gates of Judgement, she's not happy to have survived, she tried to warn the Tidecaster masters. It all sounds like she's a traumatized woman who is looking for death, but Eb doesn't actually try to die. Quite the opposite. Remember way back in Act 1 when we kicked Erenyos off the tower, and or even when we fought Tarkis Arri and Eb surrendered rather than die with the rest of her rebel brethren?

Earlier in the game, on top of the Mountain Spire posted:

Rather than acting as the traumatized survivor guilty about living, Eb immediately swears loyalty to the very enemy that slaughtered all her family and friends. For all her talk of how she's not glad she survived the battle against Cairn or the horrors of the Gates of Judgement, when push comes to shove she immediately puts her own life above her supposed convictions and signs the hell on to be Kyros' bikini-clad cheerleader. Hell, despite being one of the few people the Vendrien Guard have who have a chance at stopping Cleopatra's Crazy Magic Rampage Eb is never actually sent out to fight Cleopatra until the rebels are cornered in the Spire. There's a recurring pattern here, where Eb seems to find a bunch of people willing to fight Kyros, said people get butchered to a man despite Eb's best efforts, and Eb comes out as the only survivor.

Earlier in the game posted:

Stroth posted:

Eb is the reality of what Verse pretends to be.

Hope this is OK Stroth, otherwise I'll take it out. The more I look at what Eb is saying here the more credence I put into this. We've established that despite her antislavery talk and her claims she doesn't kill prisoners, Eb is actually kind of a bad person.

Eb Tortures A Dude To Resolve A Momentary Inconvenience posted:

I'm honestly not clear as to how much of a monster we're supposed to see Eb as. She is our narrator for the opening sequence, and is clearly not intended as an impartial third-person narrator. It's a curious choice, as she's not the chronicler in the party - Lantry is. Eb is the rebel and will reliably point whomever she allies with against Kyros as long as it doesn't involve any risk to herself. Eb has no aversion to violence - as we can see, she often initiates it when it's to her advantage - but she won't tolerate any risk to herself and will take the coward's way out when offered the opportunity. Off the top of my head I can't think of an outright deception Eb has pulled on us - but she definitely dragged the rebels down with her! It's hard for me to believe Tarkis Arri is the brains of that operation when Cleopatra stuns her by asking why, if the Tiers are independent, they speak the language and use the currency.

Arri's Galaxy Brain Hour posted:

Hell, look at the visual language of that scene! Eb is in the center of all those rebels where she's best protected from all of the Cleopatra gang's attacks! It doesn't work, because we have 2 mages and Verse's archery skills, but the idea is very clear. We can't even say they're protecting their mages, the Sage on the right is placed on the melee line to take hits so Eb doesn't have to. It's a clear pattern - Eb goes to the Gates of Judgement with her family, they all die. Eb fights with the Tidecasters against Cairn, the Tidecaster masters die. Eb's in-laws start a rebellion, they all die and Eb lives. Eb is clearly looking for someone to destroy Kyros for her, but why?

Stuff Eb Just Told Us posted:

: There was a time when the Tidecasters were the most powerful guild of the Tiers... the kingdom of Haven accepted them as guardians of sea trade and the noble houses gave us peace and quiet in return for teaching their sons and daughters music, writing, and navigation.

: Though the other schools coveted our knowledge, they feared our wrath. Between our destructive magic and our Archon patron, others knew that attacking us meant suicide.

That's right! Before mean ol' Kyros came and ruined everything with her armies and her Archons, the Tidecasters were basically king shits of the Tiers. Eb doesn't characterize them as seekers of knowledge, she constantly refers to the destructive power of Tidecaster magic from the beginning.

Stuff Eb Just Told Us posted:

: Besides, we Tidecasters love a good bit of destructive nonsense, and I know you can be trusted to carry on that essential pillar of our teaching.

That's from the very first update she joins our party, after we ask her to teach us the sweet Gravelight rune - which notably isn't entirely destructive, as you can use it to conjure shields against magic. Yet destruction is the part that matters to Eb and so destruction we get. Why does Eb hate the Sages? Because they managed to penetrate the Tidecaster mystique and topple them as number one.

Thus we confirm Eb as kind of the archetypal rebel of this game. The Vendrien Guard rebellion was never about freedom from Kyros, as much as they wouldn't shut up about it - it was always about putting the old nobility back on top and in charge of their ancestral lands. Much like Arri and the rebels will roll over and swear allegiance to you even if you tell them your intent to turn them into your private army, they will still accede if you made the right motions about putting them on top instead of the Disfavored or the Scarlet Chorus. Eb is just more overt over the rolling over and swearing allegiance part. She's not a hero, she wants the old status quo where she was on top back and is willing to use violence to get it. Just like the rest of the rebels.

Shout out to Stroth for encouraging me to take another look at the character.

Next time: We start the DLC, really!